The Ordinary And Extraordinary
“…The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5:15
In the midst of all the instruction James is giving to the church he throws in a statement that on its face seems easy to grasp, but it isn’t. It’s actually mindboggling. When you read about the things that Elijah did, it’s pretty extraordinary stuff. Here are just a few examples.
He called for no rain and it didn’t rain on the earth for 3 ½ years. 1Kings 17:1 and James 5:17]
He caused the meal and oil to multiply for the widow and her son at Zerephath who only had enough for one last meal before they died of hunger [1 Kings 17:14].
He prayed and a woman’s son was raised from the dead and restored to life [1 Kings 17:22].
His sacrifice God consumed by fire, mocking the powerlessness of the prophets of Baal [1 Kings 18:38] .
He prayed and rain was restored [1 Kings 18:41]
He prayed the waters of the river of Jordan were divided. [2 Kings 2:8]
I don’t know about you, but all of that sounds pretty extraordinary to me. Yet, James dares to say of Elijah that he was just a man… not an extraordinary powerful prayer warrior, not a man possessed of super natural abilities, not even that he was unique in any way. In fact, he goes on to say that he was subject to the same human passions and frailties as any other man. The only distinguishing thing that he did was that he prayed earnestly. Other than that he was an ordinary man.
So, if the earnestness of his praying was the only thing that set him apart from all others what does that mean for us? If we are going to experience the kind of things that Elijah did to further the cause of the kingdom of God in our time, we need to know the will of God and how to do earnest effective praying to change the course of our world.
Earnest prayer is simply this, believing that when you pray you are praying the will and the word of God and you believe it, period!
YOU DON’T QUESTION IT, TRY TO FIGURE IT OUT, DOUBT IT, OR MERELY HOPE IT WILL WORK. You are confident and passionate in pursuit of your prayer petitions. A good example was how Elijah prayed for the woman’s son to be healed.
“Then he cried out to the LORD and said, ‘O LORD my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?’ And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, ‘O LORD my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.’ Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. ‘”1 Kings 17:17-22
This may appear peculiar to our conservative minds but this is effective fervent prayer. Elijah knew God would not bring sickness and death on this child. His question was not to say, why have You done this God? In the language and convention of the time he was asking the question in a way to say something more akin to, “LORD, It is not like you to bless this family supernaturally with provision one moment then to turn around and bring tragedy and death to them the next, and particularly since You have given them to be a comfort and refreshing to me.”
So he dares to pray “Lord, let this child’s soul come back to him.”
Effectual fervent prayer is prayer that is engaged from the depths of our souls. It never needs to be shouted or railed at God. But there needs to be a determined conviction in it that God is with us in the outcome of the prayer. Elijah was convinced that God wanted to bless this woman and her son, not harm them. He had blessed them supernaturally with provisions. He blessed them with oil and flour enough to live on for 3½ years. It would be incomprehensible to him that He would then turn around and kill the child.
What Elijah prayed for was what he knew to be the character of God. God wants to preserve life not destroy it. So, he not only prayed, he engaged his whole body, mind and spirit. This was also an act of worship.
What he did was extraordinary but he was just another human being with no special abilities or unique qualities of life. Let this encourage you today that you have at your hand a powerful force against the works of the enemy. We have prayer. And we can use it at any time day or night, 24/7/365.
Let us determine now to be even more effective instruments in the kingdom of God, to do and work His will in and through us to enrich the lives of others and to bring glory to His great name. And note that Elijah’s prayer was not full of words. It was simple.
“Lord, let this child’s soul come back to him.”
Three times he prayed this simple prayer and three times he laid himself on the child.
What is even more wonderful is, God heard that simple prayer. And the child lived again.
We, you and I, can make a difference if we will PRAY! PRAY earnestly! PRAY confidently! PRAY fervently!
The spiritual forces of the darkness and evil of this world are no match for the effective fervent prayer of those who are the righteousness of God in Christ. And we are His righteousness. If we believe it, we can turn back the tide of ungodliness moving across our nation and across the world, because greater is HE that is in us than he that is in the world.
Elijah was ordinarily extraordinary and so are we.